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How To Play Magic: The Gathering Commander Format

 If you've been playing Magic: The Gathering for some time now and want to keep your gameplay fresh, it's worth checking out one of the most popular formats, Commander. This is a variation on Magic gameplay and will test your deck building abilities and strategic decision making to its limits.


What is Commander format?

Commander is a multiplayer format which has been designed for 3 or more players. Unlike the 60-card one-to-one format, Commander requires you to build a 100-card deck and choose a legendary creature to be their commander. The deck's theme will then revolve around the chosen commander. The chosen commander will be placed outside the deck in the command zone and can be cast repeatedly throughout the game. However, this will incur an increasing mana cost of 2 for each time you cast it from the command zone. (Mana, remember, is used to pay the cost required to cast most of the cards in the game). Having a legendary creature at the helm of your battle deck will help to shape your strategic decisions and will test your deck building abilities.

Commander Format MTG - Descendants Fury Image

Why deck building matters in Commander

When building a commander deck, you will need to carefully consider your commander's strengths and weaknesses. There are several things you might want to keep in mind:


1.    Your choice of Commander

It is best to choose a legendary creature that is in line with your playing style and that inspires you to build a deck around it. Obviously, the colour identity will be important here as well as your commander's abilities. You are only allowed 1 copy of each card in your deck instead of 4, like in other formats. This rule does not apply to basic lands.


2.    Synergise your deck

You will need to prioritise cards that work well together in complementing your commander’s abilities. This is something to bear in mind especially for this format as because you are only allowed 1 copy of a card, each piece of your deck must synergise well with your commander. For example, if your commander reigns damage down on other opponents, you might want to prioritise creatures that reap benefits from attacking or spells that enhance the power of your creatures through +1/+1 counters or temporary buffs, or your commander might want lots of the same type of creature, like Goblins, Zombies, Squirrels, Elves, Dragons and so on. Typal/Kindred commander decks usually ramp rapidly the more creatures you have of the same type.


3.    Consider the cost of mana

If your deck has a smooth mana curve, you will be able to efficiently cast spells throughout the game. It will be a good idea to consider including mana ramp cards. These will allow you to generate extra mana early on in your game. That way, you can cast some of your bigger spells sooner. Make sure to include some, what players call ‘mana rocks’, that help ramp up your mana (e.g. cards like Sol Ring and Arcane Signet are staples). Generally, 38 – 40 lands are best. If you need to reduce lands for any reason, make sure you have enough mana rocks to make up the difference. Try to avoid going below 35 lands, unless the theme of your deck helps you produce mana another way.


4.    Consider removal spells

As all players will be battling for control, commander games can get quite chaotic and depending how many players there are, they can go on for a long time. It is wise to pack your deck with some removal spells and board wipes. This might help you neutralise threats from your opponents and clear the battlefield when things get a little crowded.


Essentially, commander games can take longer than other formats to finish. Look at it as more of a marathon than a sprint. Find your time to play the right cards to effectively neutralise your opponents and emerge victorious with your commander.


Axion Now Events organises CommandFest the biggest live Magic event in the UK. It’s a weekend of fun and all things Magic: The Gathering. You can meet your favourite Content Creators, get cards signed by fabulous Magic artists, play Commander, Draft, multiplayer and myriad new, wonderful Magic formats you've never seen before.


Get in touch to find out more about CommandFest and our other live MTG events across the UK. Email us at or call on +44 01494 728181.

Did you know that Axion Now Events are also the organisers of LorcanaFest the biggest Lorcana event in the UK.




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